How to Reverse an Interior Door

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Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

When you talk about reversing a door, you could mean one of two things. The first is reversing the direction of the door swing, and the second is moving the hinges to the other side of the door. You can do either of these or both, and whatever you do, you're probably going to have to make new mortises for the hinges and possibly also for the door strike, fill in mortises that are no longer being used, and reverse the doorknob direction.


When you change the hinges to the opposite side of the door, you're changing the handing of the door (as in left hand vs. right hand), and when you do this, you'll encounter a small problem that isn't easy to fix. Door edges have a slight bevel that slopes toward the door stop, and when you flip the door around and reverse the bevel direction, you'll see a small gap at the edge of the door. It usually isn't that noticeable, and if reversing the handing makes the door easier to operate, the gap is a small price to pay.


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Things You'll Need

Changing the Direction the Door Swings

Changing a door that swings into a room into one that swings out calls for reversing the hinges, door strike, and doorknob and repositioning the door stop on the other side of the door.

Step 1: Take Down the Door

Remove the hinge pins and take down the door. This is easiest to do if you leave the door closed while you remove the pins with a nail punch and hammer. Once the pins are out, open the door and it will fall into your hands.


Step 2: Remove the Door Stop

Pry off the door stop with a pry bar. Do this carefully so you can reuse it.

Step 3: Reverse the Hinge Direction on the Door

Unscrew the hinges from the door with a drill/driver, reverse their direction, and screw them back into the same mortises. If the door is wider than the hinges, you'll have to move them slightly to line up the pin with the other side of the door, so you'll need to drill new pilot holes for the screws. You may also have to chisel out the mortise to make it wider. Measure the distance you move the hinges with a tape measure.


Step 4: Reverse the Hinge Direction on the Jamb

Unscrew the hinges from the jamb, reverse them, and replace them. If they are wider than the door and you have to move them in the direction of the outside of the door, move them by the same amount you moved the hinges on the door. That will also involve chiseling the mortises a little wider and drilling new pilot holes.

Step 5: Reverse the Strike Direction

Remove the door strike, chisel the hole for the lockset barrel a little wider, reverse the strike direction, and replace it.


Step 6: Reverse the Doorknob

Remove the door knob, reverse it, and replace it.

Step 7: Replace the Door Stop

Hang the door back on the hinges, close it, and replace the door stop on the inside of the door while the door is closed.

Changing the Handing of the Door

If you want the door to swing out from the opposite side of the jamb, you have to move the hinges and door strike to opposite sides of the door and reverse the doorknob. You shouldn't have to move the door stop.



Step 1: Take Down the Door

Remove the hinge pins, take down the door, and then unscrew and remove the hinges and strike from the door jamb. Fill the mortises and holes with wood filler and sand the filler flat for repainting.

Step 2: Reverse the Hinges on the Door and the Doorknob

Remove the hinges from the door, reverse their direction, and reinstall them. Similarly, remove the doorknob and change its direction.


Step 3: Install the Hinges on the Opposite Jamb

Make new hinge mortises on the opposite jamb using a hammer and chisel or a router. This calls for careful measurement. An easy way to get it right is to reconnect the hinge leaves to the ones on the door, set the door in position on shims, draw outlines of the hinges on the jamb, and mark the screw holes with a pencil. After cutting the mortises and drilling pilot holes for the screws, install the hinges with the pins facing the in-swing side.


Step 4: Hang the Door and Install the Strike

Set the door back in the hinges, close it, and mark the position of the latch barrel. It helps to put lipstick on the end of the barrel to get a precise mark. Drill a 1-inch inset for the barrel and then chisel a mortise for the strike and install it. Test the door and if it squeaks or sticks, make necessary adjustments.



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